Mentorships and workshops strike a chord with young musicians

Issue: Volume 97, Number 10

Posted: 8 June 2018
Reference #: 1H9j9G

As well as providing an opportunity for up-and-coming musicians to showcase their art, the Smokefree music competitions are also nurturing student wellbeing.

Surf-reggae band ‘Those Daze’ from Havelock North High School took out first place at this year’s Hawke’s Bay heat.

Young musicians will now be able to perform at their best, both on and off stage, thanks to two initiatives which provide support around mental health, wellbeing and professional development.


The 2016 NZ Music Community Wellbeing Survey, run by the New Zealand Music Foundation, found that people working in the music industry were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety or mood disorder than the general population.

New Zealand Music Foundation General Manager Peter Dickens says one of the solutions was to work with those entering the industry to give them skills to manage the stresses they may face. The Foundation offers wellbeing seminars as part of the Smokefreerockquest programme.

The seminars are delivered by counsellors who specialise in working with people in the music industry through the Foundation’s 24–hour helpline. The large-scale youth event is an effective way to reach many in this audience.

“This year we’re rolling it out to 15 regional finals across the country and we hope to reach around 600 young people with tailored information and strategies on how to bolster and protect their mental health and wellbeing as they go about trying to make their way in music,” Peter says.

“The hope is that we give attendees at the seminar a framework, we talk about recognising warning signs and signs that things aren’t right, we talk about how to bolster your resilience and we talk about where to go for support. We hope this will give them a framework and vocabulary that will help them articulate what it is that might be wrong.”


With the support of the Ministry of Education and the NZ Music Commission, the Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats events also offer the opportunity to be mentored by a musician who is already established in the field. Though the logistics around the delivery of the programme vary depending on the size and location of the mentee group, the learning outcomes remain the same.

Rockquest Promotions Director Glenn Common says mentorships give students the chance to ask questions about dealing with studios, conflict, and other bits and pieces that are part of being a musician. The programme was introduced after event organisers realised there was a way to increase the value of the events by having established musicians discuss the realities of being a musician.

“There were a whole lot of performers who had a lot of information and life experience that we thought would be useful for students to discover, so it’s working in conjunction with what they’re getting through the school system but just extending it out and giving them access to some information that otherwise they possibly wouldn’t have had.”

Young musicians who are prepared for possible challenges will be better equipped to deal with any experiences they may have, Glenn says.

“It’s not an industry where anything is ever guaranteed and if you’ve got strategies to deal with whatever happens then you’re in a stronger position,” he says.

“Anything that we can do to equip these young musicians better for what they’re likely to come across when they’re in the industry is a good thing.”

What students are saying...

Logan Anderson, of the 2017 National Winning Band ‘Minimal Silence’, found the mentorship experience very helpful.

“Chris Mac (Six60) was really good. He kept us motivated and was genuinely interested in us. With his personal experience we learned a lot about how to record in the studio, and how it can be very different from playing live. It’s awesome to have Smokefreerockquest helping put younger artists ‘out there’.”

Useful Links

For more information on:

Wellbeing in the music industry(external link)

Smokefreerockquest(external link)

Smokefree Tangata Beats(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 12:02 pm, 8 June 2018

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